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Last week I learned that …

May 6, 2013

Last week I learned a little about Annie Kenney and wrote about her way into the the Trade Union Movement when she was about 20 years old. I came across her Memories of a militant written in 1924; in the library when it was in need a of a slight repair.  I spent the next day or so dipping in and became hooked.  So much so that I thought I would buy myself a copy and read it more fully.  Unfortunately, the book has not been reprinted and the original copy is over five hundred GBP and well out of my price range.  If I want to write more I will have to wait until the opportunity arises and working at Special Collection.  Meanwhile without the ‘memories’  I have discovered that Annie was born in Saddleworth in Yorkshire (1879) the 4th daughter of 12 children. From the age of 10, Annie worked part-time in a local cotton mill; while going to school as well. She began full- time employment  three years later.  Working from six in the morning to six at night.  She was employed as a weaver’s assistant as a ‘tenter’ she was expected to ensure that the bobbins were kept turning and repair the threads if they broke.  This was a hazardous operation and as result Annie lost a finger to a spinning bobbin.   

Annie worked in the mill for the next fifteen years until she became active in the Trade Union Movement.  During this time she attended evening classes so that she could further her education.  Annie diligently promoted the study of literature among her fellow workers.

It would seem her prime motivation, after her obvious dissatisfaction in working conditions in the mill,  was Robert Blatchford the social campaigner and journalist who launched a weekly newspaper The Clarion (1891) where he published articles about socialism.  He also wrote a book called Merrie England and an influential  work inspired by William Morris.  

Back to Annie who I also learned was a regular churchgoer described by Hannah Mitchell in the Hard way up as the Lancashire mill girl who ‘flung herself into te struggle with all the fervour of a religious crusader’.  

I have a feeling that  have much to learn

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